My Draft Memories: Dwight Stephenson

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What stands out to you the most from your draft-day experience?

Dwight Stephenson: “Getting drafted was something I never really dreamed about and never thought possible. Did I hope it would happen? Sure. But that day, when I got a call from Coach Don Shula, that was just one of the highlights of my football career. When Coach Shula called me and said they were going to draft me it was a really great feeling. I had to pinch myself. I was a little shocked but at the same time really grateful to be coming down here to play for Coach Shula and the Miami Dolphins. Some people had mentioned first round and some said maybe later. Would I have liked to have gone in the first? Absolutely. But I knew no matter where I was taken or even if I went as a free agent, once you get in camp you kind of start all over again and you have to work hard in order to make the football team.”

How did you celebrate being drafted?

Stephenson: “I calmly called my mom and acted like it wasn’t a big deal. I heard her and all of my family jumping around and screaming in the background. They didn’t really anticipate where I was going to go but I wanted to share with my family the experience of being drafted and it was a great feeling. When your mother and father work as hard as they did and put me in the position to try to go out and do some things, I wanted to share that with them.”

What did you personally do in preparation for the draft to help your draft position as far as special workouts, etc.?

Stephenson: “I pretty much worked out on campus. I didn’t go to a special camp like some of the guys today are doing, which I think is a good thing. Back then we didn’t have all of the type of things they have now, the different places to workout. I stayed on campus and worked out trying to prepare myself and I was looking forward to hopefully getting drafted.”

Was there something about your interviews with prospective coaches before the draft that stood out?

Stephenson: “I went to the Combine and they interviewed me and gave me those psychological tests and probably thought, ‘I don’t know if this is the right guy.’ I remember them talking to me and having me look at pictures and try to describe what I saw. I was just trying to be as honest as I could. It’s probably more detailed and more drawn out process now. I remember one abstract thing I looked at I thought I saw a rat trying to crawl through the top of a mountain. So maybe I was trying to relate someone scratching and clawing their way to the top. It wasn’t like different interviews with different teams but one person asking the questions and scouts from each team in there listening.”

What was it like to know you were going to be coached by Don Shula?

Stephenson: “That was an awesome feeling because you watch Coach Shula on the sidelines and then you watch other coaches. They were bigger than life to me and Coach Shula was the ultimate professional and the ultimate coach. And then when he thought I could play in the National Football League that gave me a boost of confidence and I was excited. When I came done here I was a little intimidated by the whole process but I just went out there with the mindset of doing the best that I can do.”

What advice would you give to this year’s class of draft choices?

Stephenson: “I hope they realize that careers are very short and they are very fragile. If you don’t prepare hard and you don’t go for it you can let a great opportunity pass you by. It’s a great, great opportunity, not just financially but to be a part of the National Football League and to go out there and play a team sport is something that they’ll really, really enjoy. I’ve got guys I’ve developed relationships with and it’s a great, great club to be a part of.”

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